Today I had my third meeting with Vera, from 3 to 4 pm at Au Bon Pain, in College Avenue. Before we started our meeting we went to see the beds that people are decorating for tonight´s beds race. She has told me that it is the fourth time that they celebrate this event at Rutgers, at those fraternities, sororities and sports groups have only 24 hours to decorate their beds. During the race, one person has to be on the bed, and only three (also costumed) can push. I found it really interesting, because there are no such contests in Spain.
Once we were settled in the café, we have started talking about bullfighting, a practice I am totally against. I told her that in most Spanish cities there is a bullfighting arena, but I have only been in there for music concerts. There they play two modalities: in one they actually kill the bull, in the other one not. However, there are also bulls in village festivals, where they close some streets and let the cows or bulls without horns free. Then young people run in front of the animals and try to catch their attention just to run for cover.
Afterwards, we have discussed how people date in Spain and America, but we haven´t found any significant differences. Young people in Spain can also make out with somebody one night and then forget about the other person or stay in touch and maybe develop a relationship. That topic lead us to talk about homosexuality and how it is considered in different countries. From Iran, “where homosexuality doesn´t exist” to Spain or the US, where people can come out without fearing anything except the surprise of their friends and family, who might still have some prejudices.
The next topic in our conversation was strange contests in the US, like eating as many hot dogs as possible in a short space of time. Vera also has old me about people doing crazy things to win a car, beauty contests for girls like Toddlers and tiaras. In Spain we don´t have such contests, so it´s really interesting for me to know more about them. She also explained me all the ingredients that fat sandwiches in RU Hungry have: French fries, mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, tomato and sauces. They have this contest in which you have to eat five such sandwiches in 45 minutes. I don´t know if anyone has ever achieved that, but Vera told me she is not even able to finish one…
We finally spoke about prejudices against each other´s culture: Spanish people think American are stupid and don´t know where Europe or countries such as Irak are, or that they are all fat. Of course it is not true, but statistics say nearly 40% of American children are obese (which is worse than fat). Prejudices that Americans have against Spaniards are, for example, that we are all lazy and that everything gets paralyzed during siesta-time. And, once again, of course this is not true.
In connection to that, I would like to point out that meeting people from other cultures and traveling abroad is the only way to effectively combat prejudices and stereotypes.